13th Sunday Ordinary Time – Homily (Fr. Smith)

The people who seek Jesus out in today’s gospel were surprised to find themselves at Jesus’s feet.

They were there because they were desperate. In that desperation, they would try anything or anyone and give up anything.

Their situations are tragic. But we might in some ways envy them.

Jairus was a synagogue official. This was far more important than it sounds.

The average Jew in captive Judea, even a learned and prosperous one, had little power or indeed room for self-expression.

The Romans, however, let them practice their religion.

So attaining positions of religious responsibility was the only way people could attain recognition without repudiating their faith and nation.

These were few, very coveted, and once attained, jealously guarded.

Jairus would lose his prestige and his community not only for seeking out Jesus, a suspect character, to say the least, but meeting him in public and debasing himself before him.

He was in desperate need, for he loved his daughter.

Note that it is a daughter, not a son and heir – this would have seemed particularly excessive and unseemly to his neighbors.

The other principal character is the woman with the uncontrolled issue of blood.

This is serious at any time, but it was devastating in the Jewish world.

Blood was a sign of life and belonging to God in a unique way.

The woman’s excessive bleeding made her unclean and meant that she could not attend any service in the temple nor touch anyone, including her husband. If she did, she would make that person unclean.

Her plan was also desperate.

If I touch his clothes, I shall be cured.

If she were caught doing this, she would be deemed an unworthy Jew and even more isolated from her community.

When Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” She reacted with fear and trembling.

She was discovered, was ruined. And she stepped forward to receive her punishment.

Yet far from condemning her, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

Called her daughter. Made her part of his family. And gave her complete acceptance. When we return to Jairus, there has been a complication.

His daughter has died and his friends are seeking to do damage control and can prevent Jesus from entering the house, they might be able to save Jairus, his reputation and position.

Either Jesus nor Jairus is deterred, and they entered.

The true motive of Jairus’ friends can be seen when they ridicule Jesus, as with all of Jesus’s miracles, it is without fanfare.

By the hand and raises her from the dead. Jairus is courage to cast aside position and human honor has been rewarded.

But miracles in the New Testament are strangely ineffective.

Bark calls our attention to the apostles, mostly to the inner circle.

Peter, James and John, who have joined him today and other key times in the Gospel, will have seen great wonders.But all will abandon him in the end.

Jairus is perhaps no longer so important as a man. But he has his daughter. The woman has her health and like the lepers Jesus will cure, will be able to return to her community.

Yet what about this encounter with Jesus? Will time wash away the memory?

What will keep them connected to him? Mark’s answer is the Eucharist.

Mark does not get enough credit as a writer: he invented the gospel form and draws out the story of the Good News with considerable subtlety.

Many of the recipients of miracles, for instance, can seem one dimensional figures, but the woman with the issue of blood is more rounded.

She has a counterpart in the Cyro-Phoenician woman who accost Jesus in Chapter seven.

That woman is a gentile. Jesus tells her, let the children be fed first for it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs, but she retorts, Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children of scraps. Here too, faith has saved a person in a moment of desperation.

But where can they go next?

After Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus and cured the woman of the bleeding, he fed the five thousand from the loaves and the fish.

After Jesus cures the daughter of the Cyro Phoenician woman, he again fed the multitude with loaves and fishes, this time in gentile territory.

Both times he used the same formula: after giving thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them.

These are the actions of the Last Supper and indeed every Mass.

Mark is clear that Jesus intentionally brought all people together in the Eucharist.

Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee to celebrate both times he multiplied loaves and fish, and one author suggests that this stiches Gentiles and non-Gentiles together.

Both Jews and non Jews knew that the words of the of the Eucharist were sacrificial and created a covenant.

This not only bond to them, to God, but to each other.

This is who we Christians are. The Mass builds the church. It brings us together for a time of peace with Jesus and then sends us into the world to work for the kingdom of Jesus.

I hope that you will all feel close to God in church today.

But the Mass is fulfilled, not in the emotions in your heart, but through your actions and our world.

You’re the Eucharist, Jairus, his daughter, the woman with the issue of blood, her spiritual cousin, the Cyro Phoenician woman. Peter, James and John, can be part of the same family.

So it was when the first Christians built the church, so it must now be when we rebuild the church in the new normal. We will either be stitched together by the Eucharist, ir rent apart by the world.